The quantitative optical characteristics of cloud to ground (CG) and intracloud (IC) lightning above clouds were studied. A data base of a number of pulse paramaters such as energy, rise times, pulse widths and pulse intervals was complied and categorized for first return strokes, subsequent strokes, the intracloud part of CG flashes and IC flashes. It is found that: (1) single stroke CG's are more readily distinguishable from IC flashes than multiple stroke CG's; (2) there is no significant difference between the energy of first and subsequent return stroke pulses; and (3) the pulse rise times and pulse widths are time broadened. Lightning activity in a mesoscale convective weather system (MCS) was examined. The CG flash rates average almost 50 per minute for 7 hours. It is shown that lightning above storms embedded within the MCS IC lightning activity can be much greater than CG activity at certain times in the MCS lifecycle.